Our New Website

Our New Website
Posted on 01/18/2018
Image of New APS Website Snapshot of Case Elementary School(Published in clevelanddotcom 1/17/18, writer Jennifer Conn)

Akron Public Schools will unveil a new website this month, with functionality that complements the Akron community, including a translation feature for a number of languages.

The district's Web team will demonstrate the site live at the Akron Public Schools Board of Education meeting Monday, Jan. 22.

Before choosing a company to build the site, Digital Trainer Cheryl Paradise and Webmaster Ryan Hale began surveys last year of people from four main user groups -- students, parents, staff and the community.

"We worked extensively as a liaison to the school district and got tons of great input from people, and we used that to guide the process," Paradise said.

After reviewing proposals, the school district chose SchoolMessenger, part of the West Corp., which has a Web platform specifically for schools.

To begin, Akron's Web team migrated all existing website content to the new site. Then, working with all the district's schools and programs, they eliminated or refreshed the information in each of 50 sections.

The new site will have a similar look and feel to the existing site, so there's less of a learning curve, Paradise said. And, to take "ease-of-use" a step further, the site's "navigation," or how users move through the pages, is designed with the four main audiences in mind.

"It's designed to be navigable within three clicks," Hale said. "It provides clear and current communication."

The Web team and the district's communications team will work with representatives in each school to keep information current. Additionally, teachers now can immediately upload news and information to a specific section of the site as it happens.

Quick links to special sections to view grades and receive messages from the superintendent will be available from the homepage. With the new site, the web team will be able to manage the placement of those links based on usage patterns. The site will also use color to help support navigation, displaying each school's colors when users are in that school's section.

The new site is also "responsive," Hale said, which means the pages automatically adjust to whatever type of computer or mobile device the site is displayed on.

Other top features of the new site include: 
  • A language function on the homepage that allows users to select a language to translate the site into a number of different languages.
  • A newsletter function that allows user to subscribe to get news and information and receive get an email when new information is available.
  • Password-protected pages teachers can create for students and parents for special assignment.
  • A calendar function that integrates with Google, so each school can have its own calendar.

Training has already begun, and the response has been positive, Hale said.

Going forward, functionality will be added, including a "select-a-school" search on the homepage that will open a new window so users are not taken off the page they search from.
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